Flarion Technologies Inc., a spinoff of Lucent Technologies Inc., is teaming with a major U.S. government contractor to promote the idea of a wireless homeland security network.
Northrup Grumman Corp.s IT sector is pushing to the companys customers the idea of a network based on Flarions flash OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology, which runs packet data and voice over IP.
"Theres a lot of pressure on the government to have a communication vehicle that actually works," said Mike Gallagher, president of Flarion, in Bedminster, N.J. "There isnt a ubiquitous national network out there to serve homeland security." Gallagher maintains that the technology is ideal for an emergency network for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the possibility of quick deployment—the proposal includes trucks equipped with two base stations that offer up to five miles of cellular coverage.
Flarion has the advantage of operating in the 700MHz radio band, with permission from the Federal Communications Commission.
Flarions technology is still in the trial phase. Nextel Communications Inc. is testing the network at six sites, but no carriers have announced a commitment.
Still, industry experts think Flarion and Northrup Grumman, in Herndon, Va., might have good luck persuading government agencies to adopt the technology, even though the government has been wary about the vulnerability of wireless networks in general.
"I do not think that security will be a big issue, as there are ways of creating a secure wireless network," said Tole Hart, an analyst at Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn. "The question is, is it needed? Most would say yes, considering what happened [on] Sept. 11."